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Advocating for Systems Thinking Teacher Training at COP28

On December 2, six members of the Compass Education Team had the opportunity to advocate for the importance of systems thinking and systems thinking teacher training in building a more sustainable world at COP28

Compass Education joined the UNESCO Greening Education Partnership in the Fall of 2023. This global initiative brings together stakeholder organizations around the globe to address four pillars of greening education: schools, curriculum, teacher training and school capacity, and communities. While Compass Education has representatives engaged in each group, we focused our COP workshop on how systems thinking training can support greening schools. 

To make our workshop as accessible as possible, we hosted concurrent onsite and virtual workshops. In these 60-minute sessions, our facilitators guided participants through understanding the nature of systems thinking, its essential role in helping us cultivate a more sustainable world through education, and teaching a tool – The Sustainability Compass- that can build a whole school culture and approach to sustainability.

Gitanjali explaining how all the SDGs are interconnected in a global system, with climate playing an essential role
Michelena sharing an example of her Grade ⅘ students using systems thinking to reflect on the sustainability of their school

Compass Education Program Manager Gitanjali Paul and Compass Facilitator Michelena McPherson led our virtual session. You can watch a complete recording of their session at this link or in the video included below. They engaged attendees in an interactive Jamboard session imagining what a sustainable school would look like using The Sustainability Compass points as a guiding framework. 

Onsite in Dubai, Executive Director Nicole Swedlow and Compass Facilitators Britta McCarthy, Gullrukh Rafiq, and Laurence Myers led participants through a similar activity and discussion in the Greening Education Hub. In addition to the thoughtful conversations and sharing, this session was also remarkable because it was the first time these four team members ever gathered in one room – a reality of our globally disparate team that predominantly meets via Zoom.

Laurence supporting participants in a Sustainability Compass activity exploring sustainable schools
Our onsite facilitator team from left to right: Britta McCarthy, Nicole Swedlow, Gullruck Rafiq, Laurence Myers

When asked about the number one thing they hope people took away from our session, our facilitators expressed they wanted people to understand the versatility and value of The Compass Tools. Gullrukh Rafiq said: “The number one thing I hope people took away from our session is the simplicity in using The Compass Tools to tackle the most complex of subjects.” 

Similarly, Michelena McPherson said: “The number one thing I hope that people took from our virtual session is how useful our tools are and how they can engage their community in discussions about sustainability by using our Compass Education tools!!!” 

Another thing they hope people took away was how these tools could help empower students to guide and lead meaningful sustainability conversations. Laurence Myers said: “I was particularly impressed with the students in the room who really took ownership of their learning and guided their teacher through the process.” 

The global community has a long way to go to meet sustainable targets that ensure a flourishing future for people and the planet, and education is a powerful tool for this process if harnessed to its full potential. As Britta McCarthy said when reflecting on her COP experience: “The number one thing I took away from my time at the green zone in COP is that educators play a huge role alongside the government and corporate actors in building a future of climate resilience and we have to center young people’s voices from around the world. “ 

We are pleased that our team was able to advocate for systems thinking and systems thinking training at COP28. We hope to see global leaders and participating organizations harness the power of education and energy from COP28 to take tangible actions to address climate change and sustainability. In the meantime, Compass Education will continue celebrating educators’ voices and power to educate and act for a more sustainable world. 

Watch a recording of the complete virtual recording below, and contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions or want to chat more about the ideas shared!


Picture of Gitanjali Paul

Gitanjali Paul

Since joining Compass Education in 2014, Gitanjali has worked with the Youth and Learning Empowerment Groups to design and facilitate educational workshops, camps, and courses. As Education Program Manager, Gitanjali coordinates learning experiences, oversees new product development, and supports CE’s stellar network of educator volunteers in fulfilling organizational goals and mission. Gitanjali's experiences as a student and teacher in international schools have fortified her motivation to equip individuals with knowledge and skills to thrive in and create a more sustainable world. In addition to her work with Compass Education, Gitanjali freelances as a learning designer and facilitator for other organizations in whose work she believes. She is an avid lover of nature, cooking experiments, adventures with family, and spending time with her Filipina rescue cat, Mahatma Charlie.

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